Quakers renew call for equal marriage
04 July 2012
Quakers in Britain will today renew their call for equal marriage at a meeting for religious organisations and individuals backing same-sex marriage, hosted by Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities. Quakers in Britain will say they wish to allow same-sex couples to marry in religious premises.
Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain Paul Parker says: “Quakers see God in everyone and so we would say that all committed relationships are of equal worth. The new proposals allow civil partnerships in Quaker Meeting houses, but that is not a marriage; it is a legal contract, not a spiritual one. That is why we are seeking a change in the law so that same-sex marriages can be celebrated within a couple’s worshipping community. Quakerism is a contemporary and radical faith, which is open to new light, and we strive to discern what the world needs of us. For us, this means seeking legal recognition for the practice we already recognise. We don’t seek to impose this on anyone else. For Quakers this is an issue of religious freedom.”
The recent Government Equalities Office Consultation on equal marriage asked, ‘Do you agree or disagree with enabling all couples, regardless of their gender to have a civil marriage ceremony?’ Quakers in Britain responded: “Quakers consider that life-long committed relationships between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, should be celebrated in exactly the same way as the marriage of opposite sex couples. To us, marriage is a celebration of the committed relationship of two people who have found love for each other. Our testimony to equality demands that it should be available for all committed couples who seek it.”
In the submission to the consultation Quakers also said: “The principles of integrity, equality and religious liberty have always been at the heart of our faith so Quakers welcome the broad proposal for same-sex marriage which we think is a courageous step towards full equality for those seeking recognition of their partnerships. However, we can see no reason, religious or otherwise, why marriage and civil partnership should not be equally available to all our couples who wish to register their commitment in Quaker meeting houses.
“We do not wish to see our own discernment of what is right imposed on those of other religious faiths which are not yet ready to take this step. We seek a permissive law which allows religious freedom, which allows the possibility of same-sex couples marrying within a religious context if that is what both they and their religious communities wish, while not putting anyone in a position where they have to act against their conscience.”
Notes to editor:
View a video recorded for out4marriage at http://www.quaker.org.uk/equal-marrriage-sub
along with the submission to the consultation and a briefing, “We are but Witnesses”, setting out Quaker thinking on equal marriage here http://www.quaker.org.uk/equalsubmission
Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends.
Around 23,000 people attend nearly 475 Quaker meetings in Britain. Their commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change.
Anne van Staveren
0207 663 1048